Diocese of Portsmouth

Diocesan Synod, February 2020


Bishop Christopher gave a presidential address that explained how our Christian faith compels us to preserve God’s creation and care for the environment. He talked about the Lent campaign, nationally and in our diocese, to inspire churchgoers to pray, take practical action and donate to help combat climate change. He mentioned both his own Bishop’s Lent Appeal and also the General Synod’s recent commitment for the C of E to be carbon neutral by 2030.

To read the full address, click here. For information about our commitment to the environment, see here. For details of the Bishop’s Lent Appeal 2020, see here.


Diocesan Secretary Victoria James introduced pen portraits of four members of the diocesan staff team, and updated members on staff members who had recently arrived or left. To see the presentation, click here.


Diocesan secretary Victoria James gave an update on the work of Bishop’s Council, which had tackled issues relating to the our live | pray | serve strategy and to governance. To read the paper, click here.


General Synod member Emily Bagg gave an update on the recent meeting of General Synod in London. Among issues considered were:

  • The switch of responsibility for the Channel Islands from Winchester to Salisbury diocese;
  • The clergy covenant on wellbeing;
  • A debate about the forced repatriation of members of the Windrush generation and the real racism that is still faced by black and minority Anglicans;
  • The compensation and other concrete actions that will be taken to help the survivors of sexual abuse within the C of E;
  • The commitment by the C of E to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
  • Legal aid & immigration issues that affect some of the most disadvantaged in our society;
  • An end to so-called “pauper’s funerals” for those without sufficient funds.


Bishop’s chaplain the Rev Richard Wyld talked about the ‘Big Hello’, where dioceses will be able to welcome link partners from across the Anglican Communion, for a few days ahead of the Lambeth Conference in July 2020. We’ll be welcoming our Ghanaian bishops here for a chance to renew and refresh links. A co-ordinating group is being led by the Rev Matt Bray from our cathedral/Harbour Church and the IDWAL committee, and the full programme will be circulated when it is ready.


A paper was introduced looking at the process of setting a budget for the three years from 2021-23, which you can read here.

Diocesan synod members were invited to one of three Archdeaconry meetings in March, which will look at our vision & strategy and our finances at the same time. The relevant question to ask is how our live | pray | serve strategy will guide decisions about finance?

There will also be some deanery-by-deanery sessions in May and June, later in the decision-making process. Our director of social enterprise and engagement Canon Nick Ralph has done work on parish-by-parish demographic data, which will be presented to parishes at these meetings.

Questions were asked about the timescale of the process outlined in the paper.


Bishop Christopher introduced a new draft brochure outlining our latest thinking about our live | pray | serve strategy. It introduced the idea of a set of values that will underpin all that we do as a diocese. We will seek to be:

  1. Courageous: willing to make costly decisions for the sake of others;
  2. Resourceful: good stewards of what God has given us and wholehearted in mission;
  3. Generous: Consciously and willingly allowing our time, money and resources to follow what we believe God is asking us to do in mission;
  4. Collaborative: Reforming our structures so people are better able to work together across parishes, deaneries, ecumenically and across the diocese; and
  5. Pioneering: being creative, taking risks, sometimes failing and being willing to let go of habits that hinder us.

But he emphasised that the live | pray | serve strategy is a framework, not a blueprint. It would enable us to grow in

1. Depth:

  • Nurturing our personal and collective faith;
  • Responding to our call and vocation;
  • Being good stewards of all God has given to us;

2. Impact:

  • Taking a stand against poverty and inequality;
  • Taking our place as global citizens, and caring for those least like us;
  • Taking care of the created world; and

3. Numbers:

  • Encouraging new people to join an existing church community;
  • Starting Fresh Expressions in existing church communities;
  • Planting brand new church communities.

Members were encouraged to work in groups to answer questions, including:

  1. What are you already doing to respond to the three elements under depth, impact and number?
  2. What might you do to further the three elements under depth, impact and numbers?
  3. How will our values help you in those endeavours?


Rachel Houlberg and Sara Collins, members of our environmental task force, spoke about the context in which we were considering this issue – after massive fires in Australia and flooding in the UK. They referred to the General Synod target for the C of E to be carbon neutral by 2030, which would affect all our churches, schools and parishioners.

They talked about the award scheme run by the charity A Rocha, called ‘Eco-Church’, which a handful of our churches have already engaged with. The task force wants other churches to work towards the charity’s Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards, which will help our diocese to become an ‘Eco-Diocese’. They will contact and visit parishes individually to help.

Synod members were given some ecological tasks to do, including the creation of a bookmark using organic materials and the creation of a recyclable paper leaf, onto which they could write their hopes for progress in the Church on environmental issues.

Synod members were also presented with a draft environmental policy for info, and asked for more work to be done on it before it was brought back for approval.